Do All Wills Go Through Probate?
A last will and testament is generally considered to be the most fundamental element of an estate plan. With a will, you are given the chance to dictate how your worldly possessions are distributed to beneficiaries upon your death. Wills are also used to designate a guardian for minor children to take care of the children if the parents pass away.
Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about how wills work. One question many people ask is, “Does my will have to go through probate?” Probate is a legal process in which a court validates the will and oversees its execution, including verifying that all assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes. In some cases, wills must go through probate before any assets can be dispersed. But not all wills need to go through this process.
Assets that Avoid the Illinois Probate Process
The distribution of an individual’s assets is a serious matter, and probate is the process of verifying that the will reflects the deceased person’s true intentions. However, the probate process can also be complicated, time-consuming, and unnecessary in some circumstances. Consequently, many people are interested in reducing or eliminating the probate process.
Whether a will must go through probate depends on the nature and value of the assets addressed in the will. Typically, probate proceedings are only needed if the decedent’s assets are collectively valued at more than $100,000 or if the assets are owned solely rather than jointly. If the value of an estate is less than $100,000, the heirs may use an affidavit to claim their inheritance.
Certain assets avoid probate entirely:
- Assets that are owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety do not need to go through probate because these assets are automatically transferred to the surviving owner.
- Assets held in trusts also avoid probate, which is one of the main reasons people use trusts to distribute assets to loved ones.
- Retirement accounts, payable-on-death accounts, and other assets with a beneficiary designation do not need to pass through probate to be distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Real estate that is transferred through a transfer-on-death deed can also bypass probate.
It is important to understand that not all wills require probate, and smart estate planning can help you reduce or eliminate the role of probate upon your death. This can save your surviving loved ones time, money, and stress.
By understanding the different types of assets and how they should be distributed, you can make sure that your estate is properly managed and that your wishes are followed after you pass away. If you have questions about whether or not your will needs to go through probate, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer for help.
Our Naperville Estate Planning Lawyers Can Answer Your Questions
If you are ready to set up your estate plan, our Naperville estate planning attorneys can answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide the legal support you need. Call our office today at 630-756-1160 to schedule a consultation.
Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.